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How Much Does an MRI Cost?

Posted Apr 06 2009 11:15pm
Quest for the true price of an MRI

Why would a consumer overpay for any health care service?  This happens all the time because consumers have no idea what they are being charged for a service, and they have no idea what the fair price is for this service.  Since our health care system doesn't provide consumers with meaningful tools like Amazon.com, Expedia.com or Travelocity.com to research and compare prices/services --consumers are basically on their own to determine the best value.

I just read about a consumer that paid $1900 for an MRI at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.  The consumer has BCBS health insurance so we are not talking about an inflated price for someone that is uninsured.  About six months ago I conducted research on "the quest for the true price for an MRI".  I ended up researching 50+ tools available to consumers to help determine the price of an MRI at many providers around the country.  The results:  an MRI (in this example for a knee) can cost a consumer anywhere from $600 (in Milwaukee at SmartChoice MRI ) to $3500 ( Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire ) - for the exact same diagnostic test. An MRI is an MRI is an MRI.  Isn't it?  So why the huge variance in price?  In fact, if you are charged more than $1000 for an MRI I would suggest you negotiate down the price, offer to pay cash at time of service and start negotiating with the price that Medicare reimburses providers for an MRI- which is $463.  You can download a copy of my research here.

To help you make the most of your health care dollars and find the best value for routine services like MRIs, x-rays, mammograms, vaccinations, office visits, lab tests, vision and dental services, I suggest you use OutofPocket.com to compare and share prices of health care services so you know what others are paying for similar type of services.  Information can be powerful.  

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